Cowboys Predicted to Move on From $90 Million Star

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field prior to Super Bowl 51.

While the Dallas Cowboys continue to double down on Ezekiel Elliott’s role as the team’s feature running back, his future beyond this upcoming season remains uncertain. Elliott still has four seasons remaining on a massive six-year, $90 million contract, but the Cowboys can move on from the running back next offseason by releasing the star.

Dallas would still have to take a $11.86 million dead cap hit by cutting Elliott, per Spotrac but could avoid paying out the remainder of the running back’s deal that runs through 2026. The Athletic’s Bob Sturm has Elliott atop his list of Cowboys players that are going into a “massive prove-it” season in 2022. Sturm noted that he expects Dallas to move on from Elliott prior to the 2023 season adding, ” I think this is his last year as a Cowboy.”

“We talked a year ago about the pivotal year in 2021 for Ezekiel Elliott while stating that there was no way the Cowboys can get rid of him before the 2022 season,” Sturm wrote on August 18, 2022. “Both were true. His 2021 was nearly identical in many ways to his 2020. He just lacks the explosion he possessed a long time back. His rushing yards per game have fallen every year of his career. His yards per game receiving have fallen every year since 2018.

“He is still on the poster of the marketing materials, but I have a very difficult time seeing Zeke back in 2023 unless something happens that never happens in the NFL — a running back finds explosion again after it being gone for a few years. His cap number in 2023 is not guaranteed and will be about $17 million and while it is always possible the team tries a modified deal as they did with DeMarcus Lawrence, I do not see it. I think this is his last year as a Cowboy.”

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Jones: ‘Zeke’s Gotta Be Our Feature’

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been adamant that Elliott needs to continue to be the team’s RB1, despite the emergence of Tony Pollard. During a July 30 interview with NFL Network, Jones emphasized there is also “plenty of room for Pollard” to get touches. Dallas has experimented with both players being on the field at the same time with Pollard taking more snaps at receiver throughout training camp.

“We gotta have Tony Pollard out there,” Jones explained. “No, seriously, Zeke’s gotta be our feature, and he is our feature. We can feature him in a lot of different ways. We all recognize what he does in the passing game because of his protection ability. Don’t ever underestimate that especially with Zeke.

“Zeke takes some tolls when he’s out there as a back blocking. So it’s critical that we make Zeke — because he’s capable of being that — really the focus of what we’re doing. Now then, Pollard, there’s plenty of room for Pollard. There’s plenty of room for Pollard when Zeke’s in there. Pollard needs to get the ball.”


Zeke on Future: ‘I Think It Is a Big Season’


Is it a make-or-break season for Ezekiel Elliott? The Cowboys RB discusses his outlook this seasonDallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott is looking to get back in form for an important season. He sits down with WFAA's Joe Trahan to talk his plan for this 2022 season.2022-08-10T02:11:28Z

Elliott admitted this is a significant season to help determine his future, but the running back does not appear concerned about his job status. The star rusher emphasized that if he focuses on his play in the short-term, then he will be in a “pretty good situation” next offseason.

“I think it is a big season, but I think you can’t look too far down the road,” Elliott told reporters on July 27. “I think if I focus on every day. If I focus on having a good day at camp. If I focus on taking it week by week, I think everything will handle itself, and I don’t think there’s really a reason to look that far down the road. I think if I handle my business every day, then I’ll be in a pretty good situation at the end of the season.”

The Cowboys running back room could look a lot different in 2023 with Pollard slated to hit free agency. There is a chance that the Cowboys move on from both rushers in favor of pursuing cheaper options via the draft.

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Robert Aroca
Robert Aroca
3 months ago

Elliot slowed down right after he signed on the line. Pollard is faster and hits holes quicker and should start. Daks next on the chopping block if he doesn’t improve and get past one playoff win.

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